Hamish Riley-Smith

Rare Books And Manuscripts

Sir Thomas More


Dublin 1737 First Dublin edition

MORE,Sir Thomas
Utopia: written in Latin by Sir Thomas More, Chancellor of England. Translated into English by Gilbert Burnet, late Bishop of Sarum. To this edition is added, a short account of Sir Thomas More’s life and his trial.
Dublin, R.Reilly, for G.Risk, G.Ewing, and W.Smith 1737

Small octavo, contemporary pale calf, double rule to covers, red morocco label lettered gilt, crest gilt on spine, five raised bands, pp.xxviii, 140, two leaves misbound, engraved armorial bookplate of the Earls of Drogheda, a fine copy.

See Printing & the Mind of Man, 47 [first edition Louvain 1516]. Not in Bradshaw Collection of Irish Books, Cambridge University Library.

Thomas More’s Utopia is a work of satire, indirectly criticizing Europe's political corruption and religious hypocrisy. In Utopia the Utopians have eliminated wealth, the nobility, private property, and currency. Labour and goods are distributed equally. Property is held in common. Everyone works the same hours and even though the rulers are exempt from public labour, they work to set a good example for the others. Work hours are equally distributed and there are no monasteries, convents, alehouses, or academies wherein an individual might withdraw from the rest of society. All Utopians are socially productive.

It was to have a lasting impact on subsequent political thought and literature. It has inspired a diverse group of political thinkers from Jeremy Bentham and the Utilitarians to Karl Marx and communism.

Utopia was first published in Louvain in 1516 in latin; it was translated into English by Raphe Robinson and first published in English in 1551. A more commonly known English translation of the text is that of Gilbert Burnet, produced in 1684 and reprinted here in this first Dublin printing.

Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury, said of Robinson's translation: 'It was once translated into English not long after it was written; and I was once apt to think it might have been done by Sir Thomas More himself: For as it is in the English of his Age, and not unlike his Style; so the Translator has taken a Liberty that seems too great for any but the Author himself, who is Master of his own Book, and so may leave out or alter his Original as he pleases; Which is more than a Translator ought to do, I am sure it is more than I have presumed to do.'


Sir Thomas More - Utopia.
Sir Thomas More - Utopia.

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